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March 25th, 2011
09:34 AM ET

Christian to Muslim: A change of faith

Editor’s Note: "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door" features the Muslim community of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where Matthew Miller has lived since age 15. CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door” airing at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. E.T. April 2 on CNN.

By Elizabeth M. Nunez, CNN

The actual conversion was brief. It only involved one sentence: “I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship but God, I bear witness that Mohammed is the messenger of God.”

For 30-year-old Mathew Miller, those words represented the culmination of a long religious transformation from Christianity to Islam.

Miller is a digital media communications major at Middle Tennessee University and works part-time at a golf course. He was raised Christian in California, surfing and dreaming of being a radio DJ.

“My first interaction with Islam was this movie called ‘Not Without my Daughter’. That was my first glimpse into what Western society believed was really going on in Islam,” he said.

"Not Without My Daughter" is a 1991 film in which Sally Field portrays an America woman who flees from Iran with her daughter. The movie, based on true story detailed in a book by the same title, was faulted by critics for portraying a stereotypical view of Iranians and Islam.

But in questioning his own beliefs, and after a conversation with a Muslim friend, Miller’s interest in Islam was piqued.

“I think for the most part I was afraid, don’t really know of what,” he said.

Later, attending Friday prayers at a small Mosque in Murfreesboro, he began to learn more.

“When I put my head on the ground with them, it felt like I could say anything to God, and what I was asking for at the time was guidance. I wanted to know whether what I was doing was the right thing to do.”

His mother had long expected his change of religious faith. “I told my mother I was Muslim in Disneyland. She said ‘I don’t necessarily know if I feel good about it, but if it makes you happy and it’s what you feel is the right way, then there’s nothing I can do.’”

Now he regularly worships at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro mosque.

Miller, a white convert in a diverse congregation, has heard comments about his faith - and the controversy surrounding his mosque. Once, an Iraqi war veteran told him that the new controversial Islamic Center of Murfreesboro should not be built because it could potentially harbor terrorists.

“I addressed his questions formally and it was funny because at the end of the conversation, he kind of started admitting, 'Well you know, I don’t know anything about Islam.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Interfaith issues • Iran • Islam • Mosque • Muslim

soundoff (3,206 Responses)
  1. MG

    Good for hiim, now he can get out of this country and go to a muslim country.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Alyssa

      Or he can stay in a non-denominational country like the United States.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  2. Mirah

    how sad

    March 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  3. AllahIsBest

    As long as he does not become a terrorist....Masallah he chose the right path for here after.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  4. Mira Ahn

    How sad.................

    March 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  5. Steve, the real one

    The God of the Bible (Judaism and Christianity) is NOT the God of Islam! The Islamic god did not have a son. Any learned Muslim will state the same. The God of Judaism and Christainity does have a son, Jesus Christ. Orthodox Jews do not recognize Jesus as Messiah, while messanic Jews and Christians do! We do NOT worship the same God as Muslims!

    March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Ricky Bobby

      The points being made are, you do – you just don't do it in the _same way_.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Steve, the real one

      Ricky Bobby
      The points being made are, you do – you just don't do it in the _same way_.
      ----–
      Let me repeat myself, we don't! The islamic god does NOT have a son. My God does!

      March 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  6. DAVYI

    These posts certainly demonstrate the intolerence of so-called Christians.
    It's not like Christianity has any moral high ground with it's history of
    violence and destruction of other people's beliefs and rights. I'll bet just as many people have been killed in the name of Christianity as Islam.
    It would be nice if more Christians practiced what they preach.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  7. Brian

    To ... FP ..We're responsible for the crusades ? Not me ?? Are you ?? And.....how long ago was that ??? Ha...Live in the now. How laughable. Our society evolved...theirs did not...How can you not understand this ? They will go to 'heaven' if they slit your throat. Wake up idiot ...

    March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • JustSomeone

      You the idiot if you believe all Muslims believe the only way to heaven is by killing someone. Ignorant idiot you are.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  8. Angel

    Fools. All religions are man-made. Get over it.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  9. The Guy

    I didn't know Nick Swisher moved to Tennesee, let alone converted to Islam.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  10. Myself

    Um...does this guy realize that in Christianity you can tell God anything, any time of day...not just when you are kneeling on a little mat? I suppose you could still kneel on a little mat if you wanted, but God doesn't require this. I talk to God when I am in the car all alone or at night before bed time, no time restrictions at all. Islam maybe a supposed "peaceful" religion, but it seems those who practice in the middle east and some here, have an inate hate for all people who are not conformist like them. As a Christian I can tell others about the Word of God, but I do not have to hate them for not agreeing to follow it. I do not have to "kill" them to get my point across, I do not have to kill myself to make God love me more and give me more in my after lift. Its pretty uncomplicated to be a Christian, not so much w/ Islam.....jmho....

    March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Ricky Bobby

      When a child talks to an invisible friend, we call it cute. When a man talks to an invisible friend, we call it a mental disorder. When many people talk to an invisible friend, we call it religion.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Alyssa

      That's pretty funny that you think that being Christian and following the teachings of the bible is uncomplicated. What the bible says, and what Christians profess to practice are vastly distinct from each other.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Mike

      Rick thats funny..love it!

      March 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Get a grip

      Yeah but it didn't always use to be that way. The Catholic Church used to push the idea that you have to be in Church, listening to a priest to recieve God. The fact that Christianity is so malleable and used for such contradictory purposes has always been a major concern.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  11. Aaron

    I can't believe CNN would even post this let alone put it on the front page for most of the day. Is this really news worthy or just another attack on Christianity?

    March 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Erin

      Is it less newsworthy than Kirstie Alley tweeting a response to George Lopez's jokes? More people are reading that story than this one. What is news depends on who you ask and just because it's on the home page, doesn't mean it's a headline. It's like picking up a newspaper and seeing their bits on what you can find inside in the sporting section, the op ed, Living. CNN's homepage is the front page of a paper – some headlines and some bites to let you know what you can find in the other sections. I wouldn't mock the LA Times for letting me know on the front page that there's an interview with the latest hot celeb to be found in the Living setion.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  12. JohnRJ08

    This is individual is now in the category of the most likely to commit an act of terrorism. New converts are the most strident and defensive. They are also the most angry at the system because they feel that it has lied to them about their new faith. This person's rationale for converting to a faith that is totally foreign to anything in his own culture and heritage is paper thin. There is no explanation for it. You don't change your entire belief system after a "conversation with a Muslim friend" unless there was some underlying issue. It's too massive of a change. I would keep an eye on this guy and anybody who is like him. He may turn out to be a fine Muslim with no agenda against "infidels", but it is just as likely that he can be turned by radicals looking for a white American convert to do their dirty work.

    By the way, the fact that he converted AFTER having seen "Not Without My Daughter" is truly stunning. Talk to any woman who grew up in Iran and you'll quickly learn how accurate that film was, especially about the treatment of women.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  13. kmd-57

    I may not pass judgement on any man, but the true and only God can and will. The ONLY way to salvation is through believe in the Holy Trinity–God, the father; God the Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ; and God the Holy Spirit. To have been a Christian and to reject Christ is in my opinion, a sin against God. He will judge.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Mike

      I am not defending this mans conversation to Muslim but if you think for one moment that Jesus is everyone savior you’re an idiot. You need to look inside; people like you are a real problem, stuck on some hard Christian belief. I am Jewish and would never push my ideas of g-d on you. Try being respectful …live and let live…

      March 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • hokagay

      There is no Muslim who denies "ISSA" (JESUS). We love him and follow him as a true prophet of GOD and every word that comes from Jesus is the word of GOD. So if Jesus said that he was God, I will by all means believe it as He only speaks the truth and as for any other prophet as well, like Moses, Ibrahim etc. We are all one big family 🙂 I hope God blesses us all with the light of knowledge and wisdom. God bless!

      March 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • JustSomeone

      But Jesus died for all our sins, so how can he be judged? And Islam believes in the same God as Christians. And Jesus too. Funny how that works, right? A real righteous God would look out for anyone, no matter how they worship. That is what you hateful Christians don't get.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Erin

      @kmd – There's a way shorter way to say what you've written. "Allahu Akbar" It really stuns me that in 2011, religious folks are still trying to convince others that there's only "one true" god. It's so, 500 CE.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  14. Grumpster

    I remember a Charlie Brown cartoon a long time ago where Linus became aware of his tongue and I read the newspapers because comics like that were in there. The days of innocence like that are surely long gone when lunkheads like this make the front page for God-Hopping.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  15. sam99999

    Just another poor young clueless b@stard with no prospects in life sucked in by something he thought could give him direction. Same reason so many criminals in prison convert to Islam; they have nothing else going for them.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Ricky Bobby

      Or Xtian-ity for that matter.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Alyssa

      Prisoners in the US Penal System are overwhelmingly self-defined as Christian.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  16. buxtun

    Let US think for one moment
    What would happen if it turns out to be true that the Quran is the Book from God to mankind? It is well worth to find out the truth by reading Quran to save one’s own skin on the Day of Judgment.
    Islam is, simply, a continuation of what Ibrahim, Jesus, Mosses and other prophets preached. Please know that word Muslim stand for a person who believes in ONE God, and that Jesus, Mosses and all other Prophets were Muslim, in other words Jesus was not Christian and Mosses was not a Jew, they all were Muslim. Please help yourself by finding out the truth.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • buxton

      Let US think for one moment
      What would happen if it turns out to be true that the Quran is the Book from God to mankind? It is well worth to find out the truth by reading Quran to save one’s own skin on the Day of Judgment.
      Islam is, simply, a continuation of what Ibrahim, Jesus, Mosses and other prophets preached. Please know that word Muslim stand for a person who believes in ONE God, and that Jesus, Mosses and all other Prophets were Muslim, in other words Jesus was not Christian and Mosses was not a Jew, they all were Muslim. Please help yourself by finding out the truth.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • percychow

      To be honest, that's not true.

      1. Jesus had to be a Jew to fulfill Christian prophecy.
      2. Jesus claimed to be THE Son of God, and not a prophet.
      3. The doctrine of payment of sin in order to get into heaven is a Christian doctrine and not Muslim.

      I'm not trying to be divisive or condescending to Islam or Muslims, however, our faiths are NOT the same.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Dave

      If you took the time to learn Greek and Hebrew, you'd find out that cristos is just the greek for maschiach ine hebrew, Or masih in arabic. All mean "anointed one" so Jesus the messiah is Jesus the Christ. And, he wasnt a muslim because thy came into existance at the same time that the koran was organized togetther from the differing writings of Mohammed after he died by his uncle and the other first-time muslims sometime around the year 600 when the religion came into existence. Read your history, youll find out alot about your faith if you just stopped for a second listening to your local cleric.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • TampaMan

      READ THE QUR'AN and what it says about non-Muslims (unbelievers). Out of 114 chapters or suras, here are but a few;

      [2.98] ... Allah is the enemy of the unbelievers.

      [3.28] Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers;

      [4.101]... those who disbelieve will cause you distress, surely the unbelievers are your open enemy.

      [4.144] O you who believe! do not take the unbelievers for friends rather than the believers; do you desire that you should give to Allah a manifest proof against yourselves?

      [8.7]... Allah desired to manifest the truth of what was true by His words and to cut off the root of the unbelievers.

      [9.73] O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.

      [9.123] O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).

      March 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • nelly

      i so agree with u well said , i wish all people could understand that muslims and christians both believe in the same god, and that muslims believe in jesus, moses, and all prophets of god. the most important difference here is that christians believe and worship to jesus they believe jesus can save them and forgive them for their sins muslims believe and know that only god can show us mercy and forgiveness. the bible the old new testament all man made and changed when ever convienient not the quran that is the only book straight from god. why why do christians believe that jesus is god son, if it were true y isnt adam gods son? if christians truly believed in god they would believe his words only not a book of mostly man made beliefs. and if u want to discuss islam read about it first educate yourself then critisize if u still wish calling muslims terrorists is getiing old. bad people are in every religion and all will be judged and punished accordingly to god and god only ameen

      March 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Erin

      @TampaMan – John 3:18 "He who believeth on him is not condemned, but he who believeth not is condemned already" The bible is full of these "hearing the word and not believing being condemned" statements.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  17. ALMOSTEASY

    People complain about racially profiling muslims, but thanks to MUSLIM terrorists, whos book tells them specifically to kill in the name of god, they are going to earn the proverbial stink-eye from society. Im sorry Matthew Miller, but you will just have to endure remarks about your faith.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Demiurge

      "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My follower."

      Truly, the words of a devious, horrific religion.

      Woops, that's from the Gospel of Luke.

      Turns out ancient holy books are full of things inimical to modern sensibilities and ideas of justice, compassion, and ethics; who knew?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Tim

      Oops
      Looks like you've forgotten all the people the Inquisition killed.
      And the Native Americans
      And the Africans
      If you want to speak about deaths, Islam has racked up nowhere CLOSE to the deaths Christianity has.
      So please. Learn some history, get an education, and quit being another bible-thumper.
      If I've mistakenly judged you as religious, then my bad. Go atheists.
      Otherwise please promptly take your fellow fanatics and walk in front of a bus. A really big one.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • aliandsons

      Bad people are at every corner of communities, well educated, well civilized, and well off societies. In the same way bad people are in very religion. They are limited in numbers but they are strong in spreading fear, lifting their agenda to the level where the whole universe is feeling the pinching pain. Using this methodology they are hijacking the religion on the name of their own agenda, in reality religion itself is not bad.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • LUL WUT!?

      We realize you are utterly obtuse and have a 3 week memory capacity however I don't know that you really want to start comparing religions that have resulted in slaughter of the innocent. I'm most definitely assuming here but my guess is your side wouldn't come out lookin' so hot.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Get a grip

      I fail to see a large difference. The Bible preaches about wives being property, God toying with man and betting with the Devil, but of course it preaches that we love each other. The issue is that a vocal many Christians fail to PRACTICE this love. Mulsim extremists and Christian extremists to me are one and the same. If left up to conservative Christians we would have hardly evolved into a humane society. Look inwardly first.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Erin

      Cool – then Christians will just have to deal with comments about their faith with folks like Westboro and Victoria Jackson running around. Hate filled radicals exist in all religions. I'd hope people would be smart enough to recognize these folks as a minority in all religions.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  18. Jon

    This is just another example of CNN's "agenda". Who cares if this guy converts to another religion. This should not be headline news. Very disappointing.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Ricky Bobby

      This is not headline news. It's an article on their belief blog. Duh.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Phillip

      I care. Shame on you.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • LUL WUT!?

      Hold on everyone!!! Jon has given unto us his opinion. We should fix this broken country....by muzzling the media.

      Let us revel in the brilliance and forethought.

      ......wow

      March 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  19. PulTab

    from dumb to dumber

    March 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • aliandsons

      Dear, better get your hands wet by digging in the knowledge about Islam than criticizing Islam with ignorance.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  20. MINT

    A MUSLIM ARTICLE ON CNN – 1000000000000000000 COMMENTS
    AN ARTICLE ON POVERTY – 1 COMMENT
    NICE TO SEE WE HAVE PRIORITIES OF HATE THAN OF COMPASSION

    March 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Jim

      Who cares?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • TD7777

      Yes, glad you could join us.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • LUL WUT!?

      I don't know what any of us would we do without your blessing on what we should or shouldn't be doing with our lives. Thank you for making certain we are all thinking and talking exactly the way you see fit.

      Starting to get it yet or should I keep going with this?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.